Subscribe to my author newsletter THE AMALIAD, to stay up to date on Authors!me, and get a FREE short story about Ariadne and Theseus!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Relating to Hera

As you know, Hera is the wife of Zeus, and Queen of the gods in Greek mythology. She's also pretty notorious for sentencing people to a) madness or b) death in punishment for Zeus finding them attractive and/or giving birth to them.

I'm not saying that Hera doesn't have perfectly good reason to be up in arms -- Zeus gives her justification after justification for any and all acts of vengeance, without even the slightest of apologies. His affair with Leda as a Swan, Europa as a bull, his affair with Callisto wherein he took the form of Artemis, even! There's quite an extensive list of his infidelities, and I'll tell you, if I were Hera, I'm not sure I'd be even half as reasonable as she was about the continued parade of indiscretions and lovechildren.

But Hera isn't a goddess of revenge. She's a goddess of marriage, childbirth, of women in general. The goddess of the pious wife, the loving mother. We just... don't see a lot of that in her myths. More often, we see her cursing Heracles with a madness which convinces him to murder his own wife and children, simply because he's a son of Zeus. We see the sly, deceitful Hera, seducing her husband for the sole purpose of circumventing his command in the Iliad. We see the woman who punishes other women for catching the eye of her husband, not unlike Athena punishes Medusa, when Poseidon ravages the poor priestess in the goddess's own temple. (And that, from the goddess of Wisdom and Reason!)

and her peacock
To the Romans, Hera was Juno, and their interpretation of her was slightly different, more solemn, a protector of the state. Even, perhaps, with a warrior element. There's no question that she's incredibly complex, in both interpretations. And I have to wonder, really. Was part of this complexity, this difficulty in her character, related to the difficulty men have in understanding women as mothers, wives, virgins? Is Hera's ultimate character the result of the male struggle to be anything but mind-boggled by women and their motivations?

One thing is certain: Hera makes for an easy villain in a lot of mythological retellings, and I'm always slightly baffled by how underutilized she is in that form -- especially when the most frequent substitution seems to be Hades.

images © me!

PSA: I'll be away from the blog for the next two weeks, but I'll be back again with new posts on July 3rd!

No comments:

Post a Comment